Term 1 is always far more exhausting than I expect it to be.
Some of the highlights from last term include meeting some cracking education types including Ian Gilbert, Phil Beadle and Jim Roberson; being published by The Guardian; completing day 1 of the Critical Skills Programme; Compering my school’s awards evening and attending my first ever TeachMeet.
But what’s had the most impact on my teaching in recent months? Easy: keeping up the blog. Firstly, it’s been a fantastic way to record my own musings and meanderings. In the past I’d teach a great lesson or think something really profound and then just… forget it. Now I have a permanent record of all my thoughts and foibles. And that’s great too.
I’m excited about the fact that I have changed a lot of what I think because various dissenting voices have called me on some of my most extreme opinions is invaluable. “Putting it out there” has allowed me to hone the razor edge of my intellect against some pretty robust nay sayers. Of course I could have chosen to ignore these contrary views, but as Kristian Still said to me, we’re not going to learn much in an echo chamber. Some firmly held opinions have had to be re-evaluated whilst other vague notions have crystalised into articles of faith.
The list of stuff I didn’t know before beginning the blog is shocking but I’m enjoying putting that right and have even invested in my own copy of the sometimes impenetrable but definitely indispensable Visible Learning so I can check my facts before I start spouting knee jerk nonsense.
The other thing I’ve gotten out of blogging has been the sheer pleasure of writing for an audience. As an English teacher it’s important to practice a little of what I preach. And some of the feedback I’ve had has been tremendous. I don’t get nearly as many comments as I’d like on the blog but loads of folks have got in touch via Twitter to let me know that they find what I’ve been writing is in some way meaningful or though provoking. I have to admit, I’m not yet growth mindset enough to not enjoy a spot of praise and, sadly, I’ve always been a bit of a show off. Now seems like a good opportunity to reflect back over the past four months and organise what I’ve written so far.
Here are all the posts related to Kristian Still’s crowd sourced techniques on presenting learning objectives:50 Ways to lead your lesson Objective Quest – Day 2 Objective Quest – Day 3 Objective Quest – Day 4 Objective Quest – Day 5
The next collection of posts are on things I’ve tried myself in lessons:Using Learning Continuums – basically, a fancy type of learning objective Getting to grips with PLTS – some thoughts on embedding the personal learning and thinking skills in schemes of work So, what are learning spies? – getting students to observe each other Zooming in and out – a techniques for explaining how to get A&A* grades out of students in English A return to guided reading – revisiting the ‘reading strategies’ The Learning Loop and Rebooted: the Learning Loop – a skills based scheme of learning Learning journeys – visual learning objectives Forget the answer, what’s the question? QFT (question formulation technique) Going SOLO – Solo taxonomy Do It Yourself – Kenny Pieper’s post on Sugata Mitra’s child driven education More DIT learning – and my own rip off
Then there’s posts on general educational themes:What’s the point of lesson observations? this is a rhetorical question… Does group work work? and my answer Why group work works for me What’s the point of INSET days? …and another one… Exam analysis – reflections on the importance of exam results Seating: sorted – my assertion that arranging desks in groups is better than rows Challenging Bloom’s Taxonomy – it’s not all it’s cracked up to be Differentiation: to do or not to do? this, on the other hand, is a genuine question Knowledge or skills? – balance in all things Easy vs Hard – the belief that good things will come to those who are prepared to work hard Questions every teacher should ask every day – a useful reminder about what we should be doing Reading should be our top priority – Roy Blatchford’s article on the importance of reading What’s the point of homework? – maybe not as much as some would have as think Is the starter finished? – are four part lessons the only way? Team meetings: some stuff I’ve learnt – some thoughts on how meetings should (and shouldn’t) be run
A number of posts on assessment (nods to Dylan Wiliam):Formative assessment and the markscheme What’s the point of assessment? If you grade it, it’s not formative assessment Is there a case for summative assessment? Should we stop doing good things? What can engineers teach us about assessment?
Some ‘how to’ guides:How to write an outstanding job application – advice on how to go about applying for a new job How to make friends and influence people – advice for new teachers and old lags alike How to fix your attitude – Carol Dweck & Mindset theory How to have a successful life – Phil Beadle’s guide to happiness
Some posts about where I am and what I think about stuff:The Greasy Pole – trying to get promoted Emerging Leaders – attending a leadership course The Learning Pyramid – teaching myths Back to school – reflections after my first day back in September Reasons to be cheerful – and midway through the term
And finally, a couple of posts about text messaging:Teaching texting – original post The case for teaching texting – and the one The Guardian published
Thanks to everyone who’s encouraged or challenged me: I’ve learnt loads and really appreciate you spending your valuable time telling me what you think.